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Zijlstra's words fall on deaf ears in Germany

Germany has no intention to compensate the Netherlands for German students who come here to study. They only want to make Europe-wide agreements.

An increasing number of German students choose the Netherlands to study, even for intake-restricted studies such as Medicine. The discussion erupted yet again last autumn: are German students forcing out Dutch students? Why should the Netherlands pay for the education of German students?

Just before the Christmas holidays, state secretary Zijlstra sent a letter on this issue to parliament. He does not yet have an overview of all costs and benefits of foreign students, but promised that he will tighten policies in the meantime. He sees a danger in an “unbridled influx” of foreign students in Dutch higher education.

Zijlstra feels that schools of higher education and universities should therefore stop offering studies that cater entirely for German students. When recruiting students from other EU countries, the only criterion should be the quality of education, not the number of students. The state secretary has even threatened to intervene if educational institutes spend their money ‘ineffectively’.

He cannot bar German students, because there is free movement of persons in the European Union. Germans must be able to study in the Netherlands under the same conditions as the Dutch. The Netherlands pays for their study and they pay the same amount of lecture fees. They are not entitled to Dutch student grants.

Zijlstra nevertheless hopes that he can come to an arrangement about a compensation system with Germany – or with the German federal states along the border with the Netherlands. Germany would then bear the cost of its own students.

He can forget about the latter for the moment, however, says parliamentary state secretary Helge Braun, the representative of the German minister of education in the Bundestag. On the news site EurActiv.de he says he only wishes to discuss such a settlement system at a European level, even though it actually contradicts the European idea that EU citizens should become more mobile.

Otherwise he shrugs his shoulders. After all, there are more students coming from other EU countries to Germany than Germans going to study abroad. So such a system would actually benefit Germany. He does appreciates the Dutch situation, but he does not want to discuss any bilateral agreements.

 

HOP, Bas Belleman

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